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July 25, 1990


By CBR Staff Writer

The Gartner Group has publically voiced a resounding condemnation of the concept and realisation of IBM’s Systems Application Architecture, introduced three years ago ostensibly to help create applications that could be used at different levels within a system: according to Computerwoche, the market researcher’s main complaint is that IBM is more interested about the marketing hype of the architecture than its technical usefulness. Gartner believes that IBM has failed to deliver the promise at the heart of SAA, namely that it should be possible to write applications able to work equally on any machine in the SAA environment – including System/370 mainframes, AS/400s, PS/2s and those based on the OS/2 operating system. The strong suspicion exists that IBM’s promises on SAA are in fact nothing but empty marketing ploys – Gartner senior vice-president Michael Braude cites the RPG list generator as a case in point. RPG was promised in March 1988 as a programming language for use on System 36s, AS/400s and PS/2s: Braude reckons that IBM had no intention of extending RPG up to the mainframe level, but announced it to make the [SAA] concept attractive to the large number of System 36 users. The same is true of the CSP Cross System Product applications generation language, argues Braude: CSP was billed in March 1987 as the fourth generation language for Systems Application Architecture – but as yet no version exists for the AS/400. He also observes that the Common User Access concept, in which all SAA applications have the same user interface regardless of hardware, has not materialised either at present, he claimed, there are several versions based on different releases of Presentation Manager, and IBM has even authorised applications designed by other vendors that have different interfaces – and it is noteworthy in this context that the full version of the customer letter on the new Application Program Driver for the AS/400 makes no mention of Systems Application Architecture – it may be compliant but if so, IBM is keeping suspiciously quiet about it. On the criticisms levelled at it by Gartner Group, IBM declared that Customer acceptance for SAA has exceeded all expectations. So that’s all right then.

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